The Washerwoman

Thursday 25 July 2013

The Homespun Vintage Fair in Portscatho.

We are looking forward to one of our favourite fairs next month. The Homespun Fair in Portscatho, Cornwall takes place just three times a year which makes it even more special as there is a degree of anticipation as you know everyone has been looking forward to this lovely event.

I have been gathering quirky French ceramics... as well as vintage towelling fabric from the 1950s and 1960s.....

 Nautical themed curtains....

Vintage tea towels with a seaside theme...

 ..and Mr W has been gathering some lovely old linens, mangle cloths and sacking which is always popular with our customers in Cornwall.

The fair takes place on Sunday the 4th of August and the doors open at 10 am and the fair ends at 3 pm, we look forward to seeing you there!

Admission is free and there is an excellent Vintage tearoom.

Wednesday 17 July 2013

The home and garden.....

Busy times as usual! A few months ago the lovely Nicky from White Rabbit Media approached me with the idea of doing a photo shoot in our home.

Mr W took some convincing as he knew that it would involve some decorating as well as a fair amount of "Spring Cleaning". He wasn't wrong, but sometimes one needs a good excuse to get motivated!

Boris the cat was particularly keen to enjoy his moment of fame......

Nicky and I had a enjoyable day moving furniture, arranging flowers and of course preparing lunch with all my 1950s china and glassware. While Mark, the photographer snapped away. The result was published in the June issue of Period Living

Sadly, the weather wasn't great on the day of the photo shoot, so the garden wasn't shown at all.

However, since then... we have had enough sunshine to help the garden burst into life. For the past few weeks I have made a real effort to clear the weeds and take time to enjoy gardening.

As always the cats have been a huge help. I created these little pathways of wood shavings in the flowerbed to make it easier to weed the central area. However the warm bark has proved irresistible to both my moggies.

I hope you have had a chance to enjoy this beautiful Summer weather.

Thursday 4 July 2013

The Birmingham Back to Backs

It has been a while since I have had time to update the blog, Life has been the usual whirlwind with very little free time to think about blogging.
This week I had time to draw breathe and take some time out. On Tuesday we visited this fascinating National Trust 19th century courtyard of back to back houses and shops in the centre of Birmingham.

The perfect treat for somebody like me who loves nosing around houses! Sadly the sweet shop was closed when we were there, so just had to press our noses against the glass to see inside. The shop has been restored to how it was in the 1940s.

To the right of the sweet shop there is an arched entrance into the communal courtyard. In some parts of the country this tunnel-like entrance would be known as a ginnel, the guide gave us several regional examples which broke the ice between the group.

You do need to book a tour of the back to backs as there are tiny rooms and very steep stairs to navigate. Sadly I was unable to take any photographs inside the houses, but there was access to the (very basic) outside facilities!

At one stage in the 19th century as many as 100 people would have lived in these houses and shared the three outside toilets.

Across the yard from this house was the wash house, equipped with an impressive mangle and other essentials for washday.....

There was even a washing line with original 19th and early 20th century washing.

Below are two views of the interiors (scanned from the postcards)

 The kitchen and living space in the 1870s house

 Table laid for the Sabbath in the 1840s house. Most of the rooms were wallpapered and there was an additional exhibition of wallpapers showing how the conservators had discovered over 140 different examples when the houses were restored by The National Trust. In each house, candles, coal fires and gas lamps burned and gave great atmosphere to the rooms. Clothing was strewn over beds, giving the illusion of occupation. My eagle-eyes did, however spot a gentleman's shirt with a 1940s CC41 label in the 1930s house.

The houses facing into the courtyard have been sympathetically restored with great attention to detail. This is the only remaining example of this type of housing left in the country. At one time huge areas of Industrial cities would have been covered with similar homes.

The last building in the tour is the shop that belonged to George Saunders. He was a tailor and the shop remained open until the 1970s. When it closed, he left much of his stock and belongings which are now on display.

 The top floor store room in the shop of George Saunders. The wallpaper had been a 1950s cowboy themed paper, but sadly very little remained so it has been re-papered with a familiar high street design!

I really enjoyed the tour and would thoroughly recommend the back to backs.